Dozens of Leopard 1 tanks have been purchased by an unidentified buyer from a private Belgian dealer and could be overhauled and sent to Ukraine. The tanks were originally sold by the Belgian army as part of cost-cutting measures and were bought by the dealer, Freddy Versluys, who is the CEO of defense company OIP Land Systems. The exact details of the deal, including the price paid for the tanks, have not been disclosed.
Belgium had previously expressed interest in re-buying the Leopards but was quoted an “unreasonable price.” This purchase seems to resolve the issue of the tanks being in the hands of a private dealer and raises questions about why NATO allies couldn’t get them to Ukraine more quickly. It remains uncertain when the tanks will arrive in Ukraine and how many will be usable, as they require major refurbishing.
German arms group Rheinmetall has confirmed that it is supplying about 30 Leopard 1 tanks to Ukraine, purchased from a Belgian company. It has been reported that many of the tanks are in poor condition and can only be used for spare parts. The German government has revealed little information about the deal so far.
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Freddy Versluys, a Belgian businessman, made headlines earlier this year when he advertised dozens of secondhand tanks for sale. In an interview, Versluys claimed to have the widest private arsenal of tanks in Europe, including the Leopard 1s, German Gepard tanks, Austrian SK-105 light tanks, Italian VCC2, and M113 armor carriers.
Russia and Ukraine have been seeking to acquire more weapons, ammunition, and fighting vehicles as the conflict in Ukraine continues without a major breakthrough on the battlefield. In a separate incident, there was a suspicious explosion at a factory in the Moscow region, which resulted in casualties and missing persons. Russian authorities also claimed to have shot down two combat drones in the Moscow region, blaming Ukraine for the attack.